Believe it or not, there are branded commodities on market shelves that have no brand promise. Maybe there is no expertise with their management, or maybe their distributors intend only to sell the commodity because it is cheap and affordable. Sugar and salt, for example, are sometimes found unbranded on market shelves.
Because they are a staple consumer product, perhaps their sellers figure nobody cares about a brand title, and are interested only in the selling price. They may be right, but they obviously do not intend to stay the product once inventory is exhausted. Or maybe it’s a one-off sale with no intention for a re-sale.
We see a lot of these examples, especially with distributors who carry multiple product lines, focusing on single sales and then moving on to the next product. And why not? That’s entrepreneurial and it may be their business model.
Hawkers on the street who carry inventory on their backs are a good example. Today they may sell fishing poles and tomorrow slippers. We call them traders and at times wheeler-dealers. China and its OEM (original equipment manufacturer) strategic manufacturing is a good example, distributing to the world what is more affordable and probably cheap. The problem with cheap is there is no quality and no integrity, so why even bother with branding?
Interestingly enough, even China’s business community is reforming the policies dictated by state authorities, realizing that, to stay the market, they too need to brand. Such was the case with Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, who all re-strategized after years of wild production and manufacturing. Today, those countries have succeeded in staying the market. They compete with and even surpass American and European goods. In fact, they have become leaders in manufacturing previously foreign-branded products, including refrigerators, washing machines, stoves and automobiles.
We cannot expect marketers and entrepreneurs to realize the opportunities of branding—to them the business model is immediate profit only. Branding is the key. And to brand is all about consistent delivery of the brand promise, resulting in the integrity that makes a product a brand.
Why sell something only once or even for a year or two when you can sustain it for decades? The established strategic management formula for branding includes expanded distribution, promotion, advertising, packaging, research and development and PR. Crisis management and corporate social responsibility are also an integral part of the win-win formula. Put together, it is what we call Superbranding.